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The German-Belgian documentary Before The Last Curtain Falls received its American premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival where it won the Best Pink Peach Feature Award. Recently, the film also claimed the Grand Prize at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) in Montreal, one of the world’s most prestigious art film festivals.
In the documentary, German-Canadian director Thomas Wallner follows a group of Flemish transsexual actresses and drag queens, all in their sixties and seventies, as they prepare to shine on stage one last time. Their stories became the foundation of the theatre piece Gardenia, directed by Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke, which took them on tour around the world.
On April 17, Twilight of a Life by Sylvain Biegeleisen is to open the International Documentary Film Festival Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland. The festival programme also includes Battles, The Rabbit and the Teasel and the short film On Difference As Such. A fifth documentary from Flanders, The Colour of the Chameleon, has been selected for the Pitching du Réel co-production platform. Visions du Réel runs from 17-25 April.
Twilight of a Life is an upbeat portrait of a 94-year-old woman confronting the restrictions of her age, and the relationship she has with her son and the film’s director. Although doctors once gave her just weeks to live, she lived another two years. For her son, this became an opportunity to create a film about life, full of humour and emotion.
Kristof Bilsen’s documentary feature Elephant’s Dream has been selected for Hot Docs, the International Documentary Festival in Toronto. The film is to have its North American premiere in the World Showcase programme. Hot Docs is one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals and presents over 200 films from 44 countries between 28 April and 8 May.
The World Showcase section is a global survey of some of the year’s most striking films. The Festival describes Bilsen’s creative documentary as ‘a modern masterpiece that is not to be missed’. Elephant’s Dream, the story of public sector workers in three state-owned institutions, provides a poetic insight into a country in transition and into lives lived beyond chaos.
CELLS, a documentary feature by Wil Mathijs, has been selected for the Official Competition of the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). One of the leading art film festivals, FIFA takes place in Montreal, Canada, and runs from 19-29 March.
67-year-old Martin Uit den Bogaard, the main protagonist in CELLS, is one of the world’s most renowned bio-artists. He's a simple man with a far from simple plan: to get his hands on a new human body-part to use in his work, while he wrestles to obtain the rights to his own body for his ultimate and final piece, which will come only after his death.
Celebrating its 14th edition, Helsinki’s DocPoint Documentary Film Festival (January 27 – February 1) this year boasted a programme packed with films from Flanders. In addition to Waiting for August, 9999 and Desert Haze, the festival also featured Elephant’s Dream, State of Play and Nathan, Free as a Bird. Three docs co-produced with Flanders - See No Evil, Ming of Harlem and Ne me quitte pas - also made an appearance in Helsinki.
After successful outings at Hot Docs, Karlovy Vary and Visions du Réel, Teodora Ana Mihai was in Helsinki to present Waiting for August. Produced by Clin d’Oeil Films, the film follows a 15-year-old Romanian girl as she takes care of her six brothers and sisters while their mother is away earning a living in Italy.
Several films and co-productions from Flanders were programmed at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR, 21 January – 1 February). Isabelle Tollenaere’s Battles, Sarah Vanagt’s In Waking Hours and Thierry Knauff’s Vita Brevis, a co-production with Flanders, premiered at the festival. Black, Sequenza and Kosmos were also part of the programme, while student shorts The Visitor, The Second of August and Hotel Red Shoes were shown in the Signals: 24/7 section. Finally, the Screen Flanders-supported feature Between 10 and 12 was part of the line-up in the Limelight section.
Isabelle Tollenaere presented her latest documentary Battles, Sarah Vanagt presented In Waking Hours, and also Thierry Knauff's Vita Brevis premiered at the festival. Black Sequenza, Kosmos were also part of the programme, while student shorts The Visitor, The Second of August and Hotel Red Shoes were shown in the Signals: 24/7 section. Finally, Between 10 and 12 was part of the line-up in the Limelight section.
TV series Marsman, directed by Mathias Sercu and Eshref Reybrouck, has been selected for Official Competition at this year’s FIPA, the Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels held in Biarritz, France, from 20-25 January. Also showing is top European crime series The Team, which is a co-production with Flanders. Lieven Corthouts’s cross-media documentary project Emergency Exit has been selected for Smart FIP@, while Before The Last Curtain Falls – a co-production with Flanders – is also part of the programme. Finally, the Screen Flanders-supported BBC series The Missing is to receive a special screening.
Eleven international series are competing in FIPA’s Fiction Competition this year, including Flemish series Marsman, which won a Prix Italia at the end of 2014. A tragicomedy, it follows 40-year-old Nico Marsman who struggles to find a way to get his life back on track.
The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) has announced this year’s Wildcard winners: six promising young filmmakers who will each receive a grant of between €25,000 and €60,000 to develop their first professional film. Raphaël Crombez and Miwako Van Weyenberg were winners in the fiction section, with Ruben Desiere and Kwinten Gernay each receiving a documentary Wildcard. The animation grant went to Laura Vandewynckel, with Christina Stuhlberger getting the Wildcard in the filmlab section.
Since it was introduced in 2005, the Fund’s competition has established itself as Belgium’s prime awards programme when it comes to launching new talent. Six grants are handed out: three worth €60,000 go to one animation project and two fiction shorts; the two documentary winners each get €40,000; and the Wildcard in the filmlab section comes with a prize of €25,000.
Violet by Bas Devos and Teodora Ana Mihai’s Waiting for August have both been selected for competition at this year’s Torino Film Festival (21-29 November). Emilie Verhamme’s feature film debut Eau Zoo will have its international premiere at the Festival, while In Your Name, co-produced with Flanders, and Michaël R. Roskam’s The Drop are also part of the line-up.
After stops in Berlin, Karlovy Vary, Montreal and Los Angeles, Violet now heads for Turin, where it is to screen in the Torino 32 competition programme. Screening in the TFFDOC documentary competition, meanwhile, is Teodora Ana Mihai’s Waiting for August. Emilie Verhamme’s Eau Zoo receives its international premiere at the Torino Film Festival.
Teodora Ana Mihai’s documentary Waiting for August is one of six nominees for this year’s European Film Award for Best Documentary. Mihai’s debut film about a Romanian teenager in charge of the family household has been receiving critical acclaim worldwide since its premiere in Toronto this year.
Shot in a direct, fly-on-the-wall style, Mihai’s documentary focuses on the life of 15-year-old Georgiana Halmac who lives with her six siblings in a social housing block on the outskirts of Bacau, Romania. While their mother is away earning money in Italy, Georgiana is catapulted into the role of head of family and finds her adolescence cut brutally short.